Burp cloth tutorial

In my last post I explained the whole underwear-into-burp cloth thing came about.  I’ve now had a chance to actually make this “dream” (weird dream, right?) a reality.  And I’m just tickled with the result!  I know that DH thought this was a pretty weird idea at first, but I think he’s come around.  It probably helped that I pointed out that I was using a diaper and old underwear to make something for a baby to vomit on.  I think when I put it that way he was on board (although I’m sure he’s not thrilled that his old underwear is on my blog!).

Here’s what I did.

As I mentioned before, I ordered a set of nice but not super-high-end-but-still-pretty-good infant size pre-fold cloth diapers (which I’ve heard from several people make the best burp cloths).  I took them through the prep process (several washings with very hot water and cloth-diaper friendly detergent plus several dry cycles).  In case you’re unfamiliar with this process this is what allows the diapers to become absorbent, which is, of course, the main purpose of a diaper–or burp cloth.  When you first purchase new prefolds, they look like the ones on the left in this pic:

However, after you wash and dry them several times, they get nice and fluffy and absorbent, and look like the one on the right (ignore the difference in color–the one on the left is just an unbleached version).

I decided to do this prep step before doing any embellishment because I was worried that the shrinking process would warp any embellishment I had spent time on if it were added before washing.

After all the washing/drying/fluffing, I had 12 regular-old prefolds just waiting for some pretty fabric to make them look more like burp cloths.  First, I cut up the boxers trying to keep the pieces as large as possible.  I found that it also helped to undo the lower seam with a seam ripper to get some extra length out of the fabric.  I removed the elastic and fly and cut along the seams so that each pair of boxers left me with 4 pieces of pretty fabric:

Then I smoothed out a prefold as much as possible so that it was as rectangular as I could make it (they always get a little wonky in the wash which doesn’t much matter unless you’re trying to sew with them!).  I ironed the fabric pieces so they were nice and crisp and easy to work with; I also checked the absorbency of the fabric by spraying some water on while ironing.  I didn’t want a burp cloth that would repel liquids–that would totally defeat the purpose!!

Here is the cut piece of fabric (that’s a full one-quarter of a pair of boxer shorts!) with the prefold–pre match made in heaven:

I set the fabric on top of the prefold and decided how much of the middle to cover and cut the fabric with about 1/2-3/4 inch extra on all sides.  Then, starting on the short end, I turned the fabric under ½ inch  or so and pinned the fabric to the prefold.  I worked my way all around until it looked like this:

Here’s a closer-up pic:

I decided that for actually attaching the fabric to the prefold I wanted to use a fun stitch, so I set the sewing machine to a zigzag stitch.  I also decided to use a coordinating but stand-out-ish thread so that the stitch was visible and pretty.  I also decided that I didn’t want the stitching to show on the other (un-embellished) side, so I loaded the top part of the machine with the colored thread and the bottom part (the bobbin part) with white thread.  (Obviously I’m not an expert seamstress, as I don’t know the actual terms for these things!)  I started in one corner on a short end and zig-zag stitched my way all the way around , lining up the presser foot with the edge of the embellishing fabric (is that a ¼ seam?  I’m not even sure…).

Here’s what it looked like once stitched:

And a close0up of the fabulous zigzag stitching:

The end result of my prototype made me so happy that I stayed up way later then I should have making more!

Sadly, even after letting down the seams on some of the pairs of boxers, a few were just not long enough to cover the length of the prefold, so I knew I might need a few more pieces of fabric to create my set of 12 burp cloths.  And as much as I totally loved these boxer patterns, I also decided that I wanted a little more variety in the patterns and colors, and so I picked up a few colorful fat quarters during a trip to JoAnne.  In addition to the fat quarters, I also raided my stash of fabric leftover from past sewing projects and found a few more patterns that I liked (I made sure to pre-wash all the other fabric I used from my stash and the fat quarters so that I didn’t encounter shrinking post- sewing the fabric to the prefold, which I’m sure would have been disastrous!).

I was worried at first about getting all 12 done, but I shouldn’t have–now I really want to make more!!  It is so simple yet so adorable–I may have to start making these as gifts for other expectant parents!  Here’s a pic of the set of 12 I created:

But I may not stop at 12.  I have no idea how many I’ll need, but having a few extra can’t hurt.  I might be getting carried away…

Have you ever tried this before?  Did you pre-wash the prefolds or not?  How did they turn out?

Posted in DIY

8 thoughts on “Burp cloth tutorial

  1. Unless you have a very sick and/or spit-uppy baby you probably won’t need more than 12 if you’re doing laundry all the time. But maybe YOU could sell them on Etsy. Then you could make a little $$ on DH’s old underpants. What would he think of that?

    • Ha! That’s hilarious. I’m not sure others would be quite so thrilled with using DH’s underwear for their own babies! And I’m not sure my sewing skills are quite up to Etsy standards, but I suppose if I perfect my technique…I could always have people send me their own husband’s underwear and…oh wait. That would be totally gross! Good idea though!!

  2. You’re probably pretty safe with 12. If you end up with a reflux baby (both of mine have been) you tend to do a ton of laundry. Definately pre-shrink. The ones that I didn’t look kind of wonky.

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